Whether you like new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos or not.....there is a larger issue. In the past number of years, including my relatively few months on Facebook, I have read all manner of complaints about our nation's public school system including the following:
1. Standards- too much testing; teaching to the test; Common Core – to keep or not to keep?
2. Teachers- being UNFAIRLY evaluated based on test scores of students - TEACHERS THREATENING A WALK-OUT IN ALBUQUERQUE
3. Non-competitive salaries - teaching is one of the lowest paid careers for bachelors/masters level professionals; ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOLS (APS) wanting to CUT SALARIES THIS PAST FALL
4. Shortage of teachers – who wants to go into the profession THAT PAYS SO POORLY???
5. Large class sizes
6. Race Disparity – children of color are increasingly under performing in reading and math readiness in our public schools, and the gap continues to grow https://www.brookings.edu/…/7-findings-that-illustrate-rac…/
7. Breakdown of family- family issues that teachers must remediate; lack of family involvement; single parent families-stressed parents and children
8. Poverty- lower student vocabulary and language abilities upon entering school leads to lack of school readiness; poorer sleep and diet; students tired and hungry when arriving at school; large number of students on free lunch and breakfast programs
9. Poverty areas –less money to schools; FEWER RESOURCES; HIGH CRIME AREAS; BROKEN DOWN FACILITIES; DEPRESSED ENVIRONMENTS IN WHICH CHILDREN MUST LEARN
10. Budget cuts - in music, the arts and physical education; obesity epidemic; reduction of nurses, counselors, social workers – all while dealing with the needs that come with special needs students, fractured families and at risk-children living in poverty
11. Passing to next grade level for social reasons (age of student) when student has not mastered reading and math; IF they are college bound, number of college students in remedial classes “to catch up” has increased
12. The ABYSMAL number of “failing schools” in Albuquerque: http://aae.ped.state.nm.us/SchoolGra…/…/School%20Listing.pdf
Recently, when DeVos was going through the vetting process, there was an uproar about her being against public education. Accusations of privatization! School choice! HORRORS! Why? The public education system is a shambles. Fewer and fewer people want to consider entering the teaching profession since our culture so devalues it already! The government has had DECADES to try and address the miseries of the system. Money has been thrown at the problem for YEARS….across both political parties. Yet here we stand.
Personally, I am for public schools, AND school choice. My son and daughter attend two different public high schools…...however…..not the local high school. We have always taken our children out of district due to the under-functioning, even dangerous schools within our district. We applied for and received in-system transfers to schools with better track records and we have transported them since day one of kindergarten. BUT WE HAD THE ABILITY, VEHICLES AND MONEY FOR FUEL THAT GAVE US THAT CHOICE! How many people do not, and are then STUCK with the school that happens to be closest? If they are poor, too bad for them. I have also seen the increase of charter schools in APS……BECAUSE PARENTS ARE FED UP WITH THEIR LACK OF OPTIONS IN THE SYSTEM and the FAILING GRADES OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Somebody is sending all these children to this uptick in charter schools so my guess is, there are a lot of folks out there who are not so offended with DeVos' proclivities toward "choice".
I also work in a private school for the deaf. I believe in the private education we offer. Why? Because the options for deaf preschoolers using spoken language in the local public school system is incredibly substandard. The special education system and the meager services it offers to special needs children is as broken as the regular education system. The law calls for a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all children with disabilities. It may be free, but it is hardly “appropriate”. It’s a band-aid on an evisceration.
School vouchers? If they give poor families the opportunity to obtain a better education for their children than their questionable local public option……then I am all in. Children living in poverty have enough counts against them to overcome. They can’t possibly keep their heads above water in a failing school where they are forced to go. Put the shoes on your own feet. How would you feel if you lived at or below the poverty line and had to daily send your children to a school that offered a sub-par education, possibly in disrepair, was crime-ridden, and offered your children little to no hope for their futures? Or do you live in a neighborhood with your needs fairly well met, and you can't wrap your head around the struggles of those less fortunate?
What I am also for, are our teachers. I have seen so many do so much with so little. It has been said, if you're a teacher, you must love teaching, because it sure isn't going to make you rich.
If you didn’t like DeVos because of her lack of experience or expertise……I can understand your opposition. But if you didn’t like her because she advocates for “choice” in education….when I’ve heard SO MUCH from friends and the public about the atrocious issues with our failing public educational system……then I respectfully ask about your motivation. Are you really all about loving public education, or did you just not like her because you don’t like this president? In other words…..was it just all about the politics? Because our public school system is SORELY lacking, and continues to put all our children….the future of our nation…..at further risk.
Susan Parlato Revels
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